Commentary, Analysis, Video

Duncan Wood Testifies Before Senate Committee on Foreign Relations

Jun 18, 2013
Mexico's security strategy is evolving with a focus on coordination and violence reduction. Although tensions have emerged in the short term, the long term offers a number of prospects for fruitful collaboration between the United States and Mexico in the security arena.

Testimony before the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere: NAFTA at Twenty - Accomplishments, Challenges, and the Way Forward

Jan 17, 2014
Mexico Institute Director Duncan Wood offered his testimony regarding the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) at a hearing before the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere. In his testimony, he addressed what the goal of the agreement was when it was negotiated, what the potential of the region is today, and what is missing to fully realize the potential of today’s North America.

U.S.-Mexico CEO Dialogue

Jan 15, 2014
Duncan Wood and Christopher Wilson submitted a paper to the U.S.-Mexico CEO Dialogue in December 2013, putting forth ideas of priority areas where business leaders can engage with policy makers to take the next major step forward in integration.

NAFTA's Next 20 Years: In Face Of Chinese Competition, Bonds Must Be Strengthened

Jan 10, 2014
Christopher Wilson argues that the formation of a single, integrated North American manufacturing platform has tied together the economic fates of each NAFTA partner while the rise of China and other economies around the world has raised the level of competition faced by companies in the United States, Mexico and Canada.

Comments to the United States Department of Commerce Regarding the U.S.‐Mexico High Level Economic Dialogue (HLED)

Jan 10, 2014
Mexico Institute Director Duncan Wood and Associate Christopher Wilson responded to the U.S. Department of Commerce Federal Register Notice published on November 25, 2013, which requested stakeholder input on the U.S.‐Mexico High Level Economic Dialogue (HLED).

North American Competitiveness: The San Diego Agenda

Nov 26, 2013
The San Diego Agenda came out of the North American Competitiveness and Innovation Conference (NACIC) held in San Diego October 27-29, 2013 where Canadian Trade Minister Ed Fast, Mexican Economy Secretary Ildefonso Guajardo and U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker met to discuss “three countries, two borders, one economy.” In this publication, Duncan Wood, Chris Sands and Laura Dawson argue that North American economic integration must be deepened in order to compete more effectively globally.

The NSA in Mexico: If You Can’t Betray Your Friends, Whom Can You Betray?- The Expert Take

Nov 14, 2013
In this Expert Take, David A. Shirk considers the implications of the NSA wiretapping scandal on the US-Mexico relationship. He argues that the current crisis gives President Obama an opportunity to right America's course, and to rebuild the relationship with Mexico. Both countries should ponder the NSA scandal seriously, and recognize that cooperation is not just contingent upon immediate interests but on longer-term mutual benefits.

A Look at Mexico’s Political Reform-The Expert Take

Oct 16, 2013
Mexico Institute Director Duncan Wood discusses the viability for a successful political reform in Mexico. As the administration of President Enrique Peña Nieto nears the end of it's first year, the reform agenda laid out thus far has the potential for far reaching implications for the strength and progress of Mexico's democracy.

Mexican Political Reforms, Something New, Something Old? - The Expert Take

Oct 16, 2013
Roderic Camp, Professor of Government at Claremont McKenna College and Mexico Institute Advisory Board Member offers a comparative look at reforms proposed by previous presidential administrations in Mexico and shed's light on the current reform agenda of President Enrique Peña Nieto.

The Power of Omission- The Expert Take

Oct 01, 2013
In this Expert Take, Luis de la Calle examines President Enrique Peña Nieto's energy reform proposal. He argues that the President's proposal is revolutionary not because of the language it adds, but rather, because of the language it omits.He concludes that the reform has the potential to transform Mexico's energy the sector into a competitive market that promotes the country's industrialization.

2013 Tax Reform Proposal in Mexico: A New Chapter of a Never-Ending Reform Process - The Expert Take

Sep 23, 2013
In this Expert Take, Daniel Alvarez-Estrada considers Mexico's latest tax reform proposal. He discusses the country's historically weak tax system, analyzes the current proposal, and concludes that there are reasons to believe the Mexican tax system is on the verge of a major overhaul.

Biden Kicks-off US-Mexico Economic Dialogue- The Expert Take

Sep 20, 2013
Vice President Joseph Biden is in Mexico to officially launch the U.S.-Mexico High Level Economic Dialogue (HLED) as a reflection of the enormous importance of U.S. - Mexico relations. Program Associate Christopher Wilson discusses why this matters.

Peña Nieto’s fiscal reform and the consolidation of the Grand Bargain- The Expert Take

Sep 09, 2013
Mexico Institute Director Duncan Wood discusses the Government of Mexico's recently announced fiscal reform package.
Duncan Wood

Energy Reform in Mexico

Sep 05, 2013
Mexico President Enrique Peña Nieto has proposed changing the constitution to allow private investment in Mexico’s oil industry. Is Mexico ready for such an historic move and what might the proposed reforms accomplish? To gain perspective on these and other questions, we spoke with Mexico Institute Director, Duncan Wood.

Crime Violence in Mexico: Is the Tide Turning?

Jun 26, 2013
Recent government statistics suggest that an almost decade long focus on reducing crime related violence in Mexico is working. But do the numbers accurately depict what’s really happening? Are the efforts of the new administration and its recent predecessors improving public safety and helping to change the country’s image? Our guest, David Shirk, has been following the situation for many years and offers a broad perspective on what’s gone before, the current situation, and prospects for the future during this edition of CONTEXT.

Op-ed: Impunity and Hope - Mexico Institute in the News

Jun 17, 2013
In his new book, Midnight in Mexico, Alfredo Corchado, born in Durango and the son of an immigrant farmworker, tries to explain to his parents why he decided to return to Mexico despite their best efforts to give him and his siblings a better life on the other side of the border.

Mexico's Energy Reform Drawing Interest in Texas - Mexico Institute in the News

Mar 07, 2013
“They are talking seriously about allowing private investment in the oil sector in general, [but] they want the state to retain control. So what that actually means in reality is very tough to work out,” he said. “Because retaining control could be legislative, regulatory; it could be the dominant player. No one is quite sure what that means.”

How Well Do You Understand the U.S.-Mexico Border?

Jun 04, 2013
In this Context interview, Wilson Center Vice President of Programs Andrew Selee discusses common misperceptions about the U.S.-Mexico border.

Op-ed: From distant neighbors to intimate strangers - Mexico Institute in the News (Spanish)

May 12, 2013
Mexico and the United States are no longer “distant neighbors” but have become “intimate strangers,” tied together by intense ties across the border but with limited understanding of each other, writes Andrew Selee in an op-ed in the Mexican newspaper El Universal.

Op-ed: Key elements of the Obama’s trip to Mexico - Mexico Institute in the News (In Spanish)

Apr 28, 2013
Andrew Selee analyzes the key aspects of the Mexico-U.S. relationship in this op-ed. The article argues that the meeting between the US and Mexican presidents later this week is likely to focus on economic issues, including border management and educational opportunities; however, security and migration will also be on the plate for their discussions.

Op-ed: Focus immigration security on official border crossings - Mexico Institute in the News

Apr 22, 2013
A close reading of the senators’ framework gives the impression that the next round of strengthening border security might look a lot like previous rounds. That would be a mistake. Staffing and budgets for areas between the ports of entry have doubled since 2004 and are now at a level where even major increases would produce only marginal security gains.

Op-ed: Re-launching the bilateral agenda - Mexico Institute in the News (In Spanish)

Apr 19, 2013
Secretary of the Interior Miguel Angel Osorio Chong delivered a conference at the Wilson Center's Mexico Institute. His visit coincided with the launch of the Gang of Eight's immigration reform bill.

Op-ed: Three Knots Within Immigration Reform - Mexico Institute in the News (In Spanish)

Apr 14, 2013
As the Gang of Eight prepares to announce their immigration reform bill, three knots remain and will have to be disentangled in order for the bill to succeed.

Hacia una Agenda de Competitividad Regional - La Vista Desde DC

Mar 25, 2013
Part of "La Vista Desde DC" series: brief commentary by Mexico Institute experts featured on Animal Politico's website.

Op-ed: Binational cooperation in security (In Spanish)

Mar 20, 2013
Informal collaborative methods are typical of the border region, in which citizens and local authorities must resolve daily problems by going beyond the official frameworks provided by their national governments.

Mexico’s telecoms reform bill – The Expert Take

Mar 15, 2013
In his latest expert take contribution, Director Duncan Wood discusses the Peña Nieto administration's bold proposal to open up Mexico's telecommunications to more competition.

IVA and Oil Reform – The Expert Take

Mar 04, 2013
Last Saturday’s vote by the PRI party to change its statutes to allow for the application of the value added tax (IVA) to food and medicine, and to allow for increased private participation in the oil sector, significantly improves the prospects for the reform process under Enrique Peña Nieto. This marks an important victory for the reformers within the party, and is a sign that the government now faces minimal internal party divisions that could hold back the reform process.

U.S.-Mexico Relations: Through the Eyes of Former Ambassadors

Mar 01, 2013
Few relationships, if any, matter more to the United States than the one it shares with its southern neighbor. Mexico is a vital trading partner, a source of heritage for millions of Americans, a neighbor in an uncertain world, and a partner on numerous global challenges. In this CONTEXT interview, we explore this important relationship through the eyes of former U.S. ambassadors to Mexico.

Una nueva era para la relación bilateral - La Vista Desde DC

Feb 28, 2013
Part of "La Vista Desde DC" series: brief commentary by Mexico Institute experts featured on Animal Politico's website.

Elba Esther Gordillo – The Expert Take

Feb 27, 2013
Yesterday’s PGR arrest of Elba Esther Gordillo on charges of embezzlement marks a bold step forward by the Pena Nieto administration to establish its authority and legitimacy in the eyes of the Mexican public, and to send a message to Mexico’s most powerful unions. The arrest comes after the successful passage of an education reform bill through Congress, earning the government plaudits from international observers, who saw it as a much-needed attack on the power of the teachers union, the SNTE, but receiving a skeptical response from many national critics who believed that the government would not follow through with implementation of the new laws.

Op-ed: Defining Border Security

Feb 13, 2013
Eric Olson and Christopher Wilson warn lawmakers against setting vague preconditions to “secure our border” before addressing immigration reform, which has sunk reform efforts in the past.

Police Reform in Mexico: Can Trust and Security be Achieved?

Feb 21, 2013
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has announced widespread changes to Mexico’s federal security forces. As these changes begin to take shape, we spoke with two of Mexico’s leading experts on police reform to discuss the current state of reform efforts and the issues that the Peña Nieto government must address.

Threading the Needle on Immigration Reform in the United States – The Expert Take

Feb 11, 2013
Is this finally the year that Congress reforms U.S. immigration policy and provides a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country? It would seem so, given the various encouraging statements from Republican and Democratic leaders over the past week. The policy calculations seem favorable, too, with years of net-zero migration from Mexico and the prospect of reduced migration pressures in the future. However, what remains highly unpredictable is the political calculus on immigration, with dynamics at the national and local level potentially at odds with each other.

El Palenque Summary: The Mexican View on Bilateral Relations

Feb 01, 2013
Last week in conjunction with El Palenque, a well-known and widely consulted discussion forum on the Animal Politico website, the Mexico Institute posted a question to the Palenqueros concerning the major challenges and opportunities facing the United States-Mexico relationship. This is the first of what we hope will be a long-term collaboration with Animal Politico, which will also carry a Spanish language blog from the Mexico Institute, titled “La Vista desde DC.” Here we present a summary of the views and opinions presented in the forum.

The Victims’ Law in Mexico - The Expert Take

Jan 11, 2013
This law is more than a year in the making, the product of a joint effort by academics, victims’ advocates, as well as victims themselves aligned with the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity. Its publication this week in the official government gazette marks a major win for the movement led by the poet Javier Sicilia, whose son Juan Francisco was killed in violence in March 2011.

Can Mexico's Oil and Gas Production Keep Pace With the Nation's Energy Needs?

Dec 20, 2012
During his campaign, recently elected Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto spoke of energy sector reform as a national priority. So is the time ripe for significant change? And is there agreement on the nature of the problems and preferred solutions? To gain perspective on the current situation and the potential for reform, we spoke with Mexican energy policy expert and Wilson Center Mexico Institute Director, Duncan Wood.

The 2012 Education Reform in Mexico: From Intention to Action - The Expert Take

Dec 19, 2012
For decades education in Mexico has been trapped by suspicious arrangements between the national agency for education and the main teachers union. It is commendable, that new President Peña Nieto aims to recover, from the Teacher’s Union (SNTE), the education policy decisions that the National Education Act confers, mainly, to the National Department of Education (SEP) and other local education authorities (articles 12 and 13).

President Peña Nieto’s Security Strategy - The Expert Take

Dec 17, 2012
Today Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto announced his government’s much anticipated security strategy to a nation exhausted and traumatized by six years of devastating violence and skyrocketing crime. In his statement he committed to heed the mandate of Mexican citizens in the last election calling for a country at peace and based on “respect and protection of human rights.”

Part I of The Latino Vote: Election 2012 Results

Dec 14, 2012
Perhaps the biggest story to emerge from the 2012 election other than the actual results, is the potentially decisive role played by Latino American voters. In part one of our series, Tamar Jacoby, President of ImmigrationWorks USA, looks back at the recent outcome and its implications for the future.

Part II of The Latino Vote: Bad News for the Grand Old Party?

Dec 14, 2012
In our second installment, Alfonso Aguilar, Executive Director of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles, discusses challenges facing the Republican Party when it comes to increasing support from Latino voters.

Part III of The Latino Vote: Why Did Arizona Buck the Trend?

Dec 14, 2012
While Latino voters were helping deliver Democratic majorites in Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Virginia, Arizona remained solidly in the Republican column. This happend in spite of the state's growing Latino population and also in the face of heated debate over its immigration policies. To gain insight into Arizona's politics, we spoke with Arizona State University's Rodolfo Espino.

Part IV of the Latino Vote: A Look Ahead

Dec 14, 2012
In our final chapter, Roberto Suro looks beyond the headlines of 2012 to identify the most important trend lines reshaping the dynamics of U.S. elections.

Pacto Por Mexico - The Expert Take

Dec 12, 2012
During the era of the pre-democratic PRI in Mexico there existed a long history of national political pacts. Those pacts typically were between the PRI dominated executive branch and the two most influential actors, labor unions and business organizations. In the 1990s, at the highpoint of the democratic transition, the PRI for the first time in its history lost its ability to ensure a two-thirds vote in the legislative branch, preventing it from accomplishing constitutional changes.

Eric Olson's Review of Denise Dresser's "My Country: Insights To Understand and Change Mexico"

Nov 01, 2012
In El país de uno: Reflexiones para entender y cambiar a México (My Country: Insights to Understand and Change Mexico), Denise Dresser concludes that Mexico has no one to blame but itself for its lackluster performance.

Arizona's Immigration Law on Trial

May 03, 2012
With a Supreme Court ruling expected this summer, the debate on state-level immigration enforcement is poised to shape the presidential campaign in unexpected ways. In this interview, Center expert Karthick Ramakrishnan discusses the Court’s recent hearing on Arizona’s controversial SB1070 law.

Mexico ‘Critically Important’ to US Economy

Feb 24, 2012
Enhanced North American economic integration benefits all of the United States—not just the border—Mexico’s Ambassador Arturo Sarukhan and former United States Trade Representative Carla Hills say. Mexico differs from other trade partners, since its U.S. exports contain such a large share of U.S. content, they note.

Op-ed: Mexican drug cartels less cohesive, more violent

Sep 29, 2011
The Mexican government, supported by U.S. intelligence, has succeeded in arresting many of the top leaders of the trafficking organizations and making it harder for them to operate. Today these groups are probably far less cohesive than they once were, but that has also made them much more violent.

Op-ed: How 2011 could be better for Mexico

Jan 19, 2011
No doubt about it, 2010 was not a good year for Mexico. After setting new records for cartel-related violence, it’s hard to imagine 2011 could be much worse. While reversing this trend will be extremely difficult, here are three things the Mexican and U.S. governments can do to help make this a better year for Mexico and, by extension, the United States.

Immigration and Security: Does the New Immigration Law Protect the People of Arizona?

Jul 29, 2010
On July 29, the first pieces of Arizona’s new immigration law, SB 1070, take effect without the most controversial parts of the legislation. The sections that mandated that Arizona police enforce federal immigration laws have been blocked by a federal judge pending further review.1 If fully implemented, the law would direct police to ascertain the immigration status of people they stop or detain while enforcing other laws, make it a state crime for immigrants to not have papers documenting legal status in their possession, and otherwise increase state pressure on unauthorized (some would say all) immigrants.

GAO Report Finds Merida Initiative Needs Better Performance Measures

Jul 21, 2010
On July 21st, the investigative arm of the U.S. Congress, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), released a report assessing the Merida Initiative—a security cooperation program that guides U.S.-Mexico collaboration to confront organized crime and drug trafficking organizations.

Op-ed: Five myths about Mexico's drug war

Mar 28, 2010
In Mexico last week, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton lamented the "cycle of violence and crime that has impacted communities on both sides of the border" and pledged continued U.S. engagement. With Washington's support, the Mexican government has been pursuing an aggressive multiyear campaign to confront criminal groups tied to the drug trade. To understand those efforts' chances of success, let's look beyond common misperceptions about Mexico's plight.

Op-ed: Security. U.S.-Mexico Cooperation: A New Opportunity?

Jul 01, 2009
The new U.S. administration probably did not expect to focus as much attention on Mexico early in the term, but it is hard to remember a period of such intense activity between the two countries.

Strengthening U.S.-Mexico Cooperation against Drug Trafficking: What Can State Attorney Generals Do?

Jun 16, 2009
I would like to offer a bit of context on the current situation related to drug trafficking and organized crime in Mexico; the efforts that are going on between our two countries to address this; and specifically how the attorneys general might be able to play a leading role in these efforts, which have profound implications for our home communities as well as for the country next door.

The Local Educational and Regional Economic Foundations of Violence: An Analysis of Homicide Rates across Mexico’s Municipalities

Jan 15, 2014
Examining 2010 homicide rates across Mexico’s 2455 municipalities, Matthew Ingram offers a subnational and spatial study of the patterns and sources of violence.

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